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Venezuela TEFL FAQ!
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Pennypacker1



Joined: 07 Sep 2005
Posts: 23
Location: Caracas, Venezuela!

PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2006 2:25 am    Post subject: Venezuela TEFL FAQ! Reply with quote

Hey guys, I’m coming up to the end of my first year in Venezuela (Caracas specifically), the jury’s still out as to whether I’ll being sticking around for another year but I thought I would at least share my experiences as there is not a lot of information out there about the TEFL situation here.

The Situation

In my particular situation I was contracted (very casually) outside of Venezuela and offered the position before I arrived. This has been the situation with almost every foreign language I have met during my time here. The downside to this (as was the case with me) is that there are an absolute ton of variables.
I have to say honestly that if I had known what Venezuela was like before I came, I would not have taken the job. Previously I had travelled through almost every country in South America and lived for an extended period in Brazil. Venezuela is a completely different kettle of fish.

For starters it’s very expensive. Over a century of reliance on the petroleum means that little is actually produced within Venezuela, as such the majority of things must be imported, along with the costs that are involved. Supermarket prices in the major cities are easily the equal of the U.S. and Western Europe. Currently (Jan 2007) the government values the ‘cesta basica’ which is supposedly the cost of living in Venezuela at around $500 per month. Considering the minimum wage here is a little under $300 per month you can see how tough it can be for the average person.

The Salary

However thanks to the fact that you are a highly skilled, well experienced, stylishly dressed ESL professional with impeccable references,, you don’t have to worry so much about feeding yourself. There are several international franchise schools operating in Venezuela (such as Inlingua, Wall Street etc.) and most of them have at least a couple of poor foreign souls contracted. The current salary for these schools is in the range of US$600-650 per month. However there are differences between these schools as to whether they pay vacations etc. The problem is, as I mentioned before, Venezuela is quite expensive. Really to not be worrying about finances you would want to be earning around US$1000 a month. This figure is possible to achieve as a base salary but not very often from outside the country, really you would have to show your level of ability, presentation etc. before trying to negotiate a figure like that or upwards. Another option is a private college or an organisation like the Centro Venezolano Americano that basically recruits Americans and Canadians for an intern-like situation.

Note: In Merida, the capital of the Venezuelan Andean region this situation is quite different due to the large number of travellers as it is firmly on the backpacking route. The pay and stability would be a lot less (I believe) but there are more opportunities and the environment is in general nicer and a lot cheaper.

Note: On no account enter into an agreement where you will be paid per class especially in larger cities like Caracas or Maracaibo, as mentioned in other posts, Latin American students are not the most motivated, organised or punctual and even if they are serious about studying. The way that the cities are here, if there’s a car crash in some part of the city (no matter how remote) the whole place will be in worse than usual gridlock. Or if it rains, they don’t like to go out in the rain, but maybe that’s a hair thing. So what might look like a pretty full schedule and nice wad of cash on paper can easily be reduced by more than 50% (this is not an exaggeration). Always go with the fixed salary for a fixed maximum amount of hours. Trust me.

The Benefits

With the exception of the British Council in Caracas not one of them (to my knowledge) employ you legally under Venezuela’s quite advanced (for Latin America, thanks Hugo) workplace relations laws. Technically you should receive, on top of your salary, a ‘utilidades’ payment of around two months salary at the end of each calendar year, however to get this you need to have at least 12 months with the company (This basically amounts to a paying out of dividends on the company‘s profits). The company also should organize a compulsory savings account ‘caja de ahorro’ for you from which you can withdraw at any time (I’m still a little hazy on that one but I know the money comes out of your salary). There are also health insurance and issues about benefits that need to be discussed with any prospective employer. They will all tell you that they are not required to pay these payments to foreigners but that’s a lie.

The Place You Call Home.

There is crime, traffic, pollution, noise in Venezuela but one of the most difficult things to with is the accommodation situation. As in most Latin American countries there is no culture of ‘share’housing’, people just live with their parents until they get married (or even afterwards). I personally lived in a hotel for almost a month (expensive) before taking a room with a less than ideal family in an even less than ideal part of the city. By that time I was sick from eating junk food and a lot poorer. Again, almost every foreign teacher I have met, basically rents a room from a family. Some situations are better than others (you can use to laundry, kitchen etc.) but these are definitely the exceptions. This option would cost you in the region of US$120 per month, but no visitors!, no smoking!, no drinking!, no coming home late!

Some people are lucky to find apartments owned by Venezuelans who live abroad and are not keen to rent to other Venezuelans due to the country’s very pro-tenant rental laws (once again, thanks Hugo). This feeds into the cycle as a lot of apartments in Caracas are just lying empty because the owners don’t want to risk renting them out. Thus, the ones that are on the rental market are horrendously expensive. To highlight the situation, in Caracas, a city of around 5 million people (but who really knows) on an average day there might be a dozen apartments advertised for rent, some asking for up to six months deposit. If you want a room the situation is even more dire, maybe about 5 or 6 advertised daily. If you take up a position in Venezuela outside of the country, you really should have the employer organise a couple of options before you arrive, that, is after letting them know what you would prefer.

The Visa

Most of the foreign teachers I have come into contact are just working on a student visa issued in their country of origin at a usually exorbitant price. So remember if you are employed on conditions any less than mentioned here then it is illegal and the employer is opened to being sued (as happened recently to a major English school). But as always in Latin America, the law is a flexible concept and in the end it’s up to you whether Venezuela is worth the hassle.

The Hassle.

Note: This section is comprised entirely of personal opinion and sweeping generalizations

More than likely if you take a job to teach English in Venezuela you will be in Caracas. After almost a year here I can say that I am definitely not a fan. Planned (if you can even say that) around the motor car, the city is becoming quite spread out at the wealthy move into the hills away from the encroaching urban slums. It’s quite likely that you could be working up there for a posh school but the bad part is you won’t be able to afford living there. So your daily routine may involve up to an hour of travel. Metro, bus, another bus, jeep. But if you are lucky enough to live AND work on the metro line you will have no problems. The metro is clean, cheap, safe and convenient.

One bummer is, that for a city the size of Caracas, there is really not that much going on culturally, compared to a city like Bogota for example. There are really no accessible plazas or parks with outdoor cafes and restaurants to take advantage of the fantastic weather. No pedestrian culture at all.

Venezuelan culture is aggressively lowbrow, but that can be great sometimes, especially if you’re into beer and salsa. The women are beautiful in a surgically enhanced kind of way and the men are fat. But if you don’t look like you’ve spent a couple of grand on your outfit, the women tend to ignore the foreign male in the better clubs. However if you’ve made it to South America with your sense of humor (and dress sense) intact you’ll probably have a lot of fun.

One myth floating around is that Caracas is a beach city. While technically it’s true that it does lie on the coast, the main bridge linking the city to the coast on the other side of the mountain literally fell down earlier this year. The circuitous alternative route makes sure that any trip to the ‘city’ beaches will be an hours long commute (That is if the police don’t close the road completely for some very good reason known only to them!) Also, if you’re into a bit of socialist tourism, like a lot of people visiting Caracas seem to be. You’ve got the chance to see a real live revolution in progress. Bet you can take back some great pictures to show to your friends at the downtown Marxist book club over a couple of chardonnays!!

If you’ve managed to negotiate a nice salary you’ll probably get to see a bit of the country, personally I would recommend the southern areas Canaima, Roraima, Angel Falls etc. These areas are really unique but compared to the rest of South America, super expensive to visit. But really they are worth the money. Venezuela’s beaches are often raved about but I don’t see the fuss. They’re often crowded, full of trash and a hundred cars all pumping reggaeton from their sound systems. Some of the more isolated beaches are quite nice but really nothing special compared to Brazil or the rest of the Caribbean.

The Dirt

So, in conclusion I would say that if you are into having a unique teaching experience, free from smelly backpackers and a quite good salary by Latin American standards then you should come. There really is a lot of potential here as there are probably less than 20 native English teachers in Caracas. Could translate into some nice cash (One school has Romanian, Polish and Finnish teachers here because they can’t attract native speakers) if you’re willing to research the situation and negotiate a good enough deal.
But beware, if you want friendly natives, delicious food, cheap beer and palm fringed white sands, you should probably avoid this crazy country!

Any more questions, just ask. Always happy to help!

penny packer!
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Jyulee



Joined: 01 May 2005
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2006 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A fun post to read - but is Caracas really that bad? Smile

It was also interesting to read about such high prices because of reliance on imports. Here too (Colombia) there is an almost two-tier pricing policy between domestically produced stuff and the things imported from the states. So, locally produced basics (like beer, rice, etc...) are several times cheaper than their western counterparts - while luxuries (cars, computers) come at western prices.

A "good salary" here is still not much by western standards, so a westerner on a foreign contract here will be able to buy all the beer and rice that he or she needs, but will only be able to get a car through a "pay for it over 25 years credit" type of deal.

Anyway, I was thinking of maybe going to Venezuela one day, but now perhaps not!
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Dragonlady



Joined: 10 May 2004
Posts: 720
Location: Chillinfernow, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 3:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

deleted

out of date


Last edited by Dragonlady on Sun Sep 26, 2010 8:15 am; edited 1 time in total
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Pennypacker1



Joined: 07 Sep 2005
Posts: 23
Location: Caracas, Venezuela!

PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey woah!! the last thing I want to do is put anyone of coming to the glorious boliviarian republic!! hehe but I would like anyone coming here to be as informed as possible, something that I missed out on unfortunately...
oh well live and learnn..

anyway I can't comment on the difference between Venezuela and Colombia... yet to make it across the border, but hopefully ill be getting across in February to see what all the fuss is about... fuss about Bogota at least...

I wouldn't say Caracas is that bad... it's just compared to alot of other Latin American cities.. all the influences... Spanish, American etc. are all quite undigested..
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DirtGuy



Joined: 28 Dec 2004
Posts: 529

PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2006 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pennypacker,

Great post. Learned a lot.

I was in the Merida and San Cristobal area many years ago and always wanted to return. Now I'm planning on having something of mid-life crisis and wish to teach overseas for a while. It's either now or never. Do you know anything about the job situation in either of those cities or the region in general? Have a steady income from investments in the US so money is not a problem.

Also, what about language schools that teach Spanish to gringos? My idea is to attend one for maybe 6 months to improve my Spanish while I see what the work situation is like. Are there schools like this in that region.

Any info you can give me is great.

DirtGuy
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ak_tesl



Joined: 24 Jun 2005
Posts: 50

PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2006 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, what about language schools that teach Spanish to gringos? My idea is to attend one for maybe 6 months to improve my Spanish while I see what the work situation is like. Are there schools like this in that region. [/quote]

In Merida: Iowa Institute, Universidad de Los Andes, and VENUSA. They offer Spanish courses and may allow you to work part-time, teaching English. Posada Alemania includes use of kitchen.
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DirtGuy



Joined: 28 Dec 2004
Posts: 529

PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 2:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you , ak. I will look these people up on the Web and see what they say.

I understand Merida is on the gringo trail and attracts lots of backpakers. How does this affect the demand for trained teachers?

Thanks again.

DirtGuy
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ak_tesl



Joined: 24 Jun 2005
Posts: 50

PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 4:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DirtGuy wrote:
Thank you , ak. I will look these people up on the Web and see what they say.

I understand Merida is on the gringo trail and attracts lots of backpakers. How does this affect the demand for trained teachers?

Thanks again.

DirtGuy


Very few stay there to teach. Merida is a university town. Best time to hike the mountains is NOV to MAR, rainy season after that.
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leisha.j



Joined: 02 Nov 2006
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 2:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Venezuela TEFL Reply with quote

Hey,

I was so glad to find your post about Venezuela. I've been offered a job at Inlingua Caracas, don't know anyone there, and haven't found much information online from otehr TEFL teachers there.

I have been able to email a few of the past teachers, and they've all said the same thing - fiding accomodation is a nightmare. I'd really like to get an apartment, or at least a prospect before I get there (in about 2 weeks!). Are you still in VZLA? Any tips?
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Gareth2000



Joined: 14 May 2005
Posts: 68
Location: Cordoba, Argentina

PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 12:35 am    Post subject: hey Penny Reply with quote

hey its abit easier for women to get apartments than men... but as i said in the PM its a nightmare mate.

Hey Penny, I'm interested in how much u ended up getting paid in Bolivars after negociation and where you worked. I have like 2 years of teaching experience and a degree in Accounting so im well qualified and of course I have a TEFL cert. Im at Inlingua Caracas at the moment and i get like 1,350,000 Bs a month for that 30 hours max set salary deal - u recon i could do better somewhere else I would be interested to know.

Where did u work?

Yeah its Chaos here.

Gary
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debster



Joined: 28 Dec 2006
Posts: 2
Location: Rome, GA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've spent my own share of time down in Venezuela... and I'm looking to go back. I understand the craziness you talk about in Caracas.. I have made it my habit to avoid that city.
Do you guys know about any ESL jobs in Valencia, Venezuela? I really like it there and life moves a little slower there than in Caracas.

Thanks,
Debster
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Bogey



Joined: 06 Feb 2007
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2007 7:23 pm    Post subject: Spanish language schools Reply with quote

I taught at CVA in Las Mercedes for almost a year and spent almost 2 years in Caracas (with breaks inbetween). The pay is tiny, (you are there officially as a "becario" meaning intern) , but it was highly rewarding and a great experience, and you can meet some very cool young Venezolanos/anas.

the Spanish courses at CVA offered to foreigners (mostly local Chinese kids, but some brazilians, outside embassy staff, etc) are excellent, the instruction is top notch, but you'll also have to apply yourself and make sure you try to interact with locals in your free time.

if you are going to teach English in Caracas or anywhere else in Venezuela, you can pretty much forget renting your own appt. You won't be able to afford it. What most people do is rent a room with a Venezuelan family (I did this, even before I got the gig at CVA, a Venezuelan gf found the place for me) or several of the gringo/a teachers at the school would roomate up for a house... or an appt.


if you do the latter, it will greatly hinder your learning Spanish.

I got along splendidly with the family that I lived with. I respected their home and they respected my privacy, and the things I liked to do. It worked out very nicely. I lived in El Rosal, probably one of the best places to live in CCS, to due its location (centrally located) and I walked to work every day.

those that mention the dearth of room possibilities, etc where are you looking? hopefully you know at least some Spanish, but in every day's edition of El Universal you will find MANY MANY such ads, in every part of the city.

If your clasificados come from something like the English language Daily Journal, then your problems are just beginning LOL
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Pennypacker1



Joined: 07 Sep 2005
Posts: 23
Location: Caracas, Venezuela!

PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2007 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry Bogey, just let me hear that again!?

Quote:
those that mention the dearth of room possibilities, etc where are you looking? hopefully you know at least some Spanish, but in every day's edition of El Universal you will find MANY MANY such ads, in every part of the city.

If your clasificados come from something like the English language Daily Journal, then your problems are just beginning LOL


I'm sure anyone who has attempted to find a place to live in Caracas within the last year or so will attest that this is definately not the case.

A quick survey of El Universal/Ultimas Noticias and even a website like terra.co.ve should be able to tell you that.

For starters if you are an English teacher then you will be working on the East side of town (From Plaza Venezuela out to El Marquez or around that area) which safety-wise is the most sensible place to live anyway. Narrowing down the options for a TEFL teacher (i.e. location/price) leaves you with maybe half a dozen viable options per week. I'm sure some of this years new arrivals can attest to that.

Any foreigner who ive have ever come into contact with in CCS was either still desperately searching while living somewhere temporary, or living in a place they had found 'through the grapevine' as it were. Don't mean to be pessimistic but it's just the current situation.

Would be interesting to hear how the aforementioned 'new arrivals' have gotten on in respect to finding a place to live.
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nickelgoat



Joined: 26 Jan 2006
Posts: 197
Location: Where in the world is nickelgoat?

PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2007 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

.....

Last edited by nickelgoat on Fri Sep 14, 2007 1:14 am; edited 1 time in total
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Gareth2000



Joined: 14 May 2005
Posts: 68
Location: Cordoba, Argentina

PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2007 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hey, im here in the jungle of caracas, (just listen that welcome to the jungle by G&R and thats caracas at the moment) mm the political situaction lots of people moan about it, it has caused alot of inflation so its fucking hard to get a place, all the foriegn teachers at Inlingua my work are looking for places, its not that there ant places its just that with the money u make here u dont have to many options.

there are sugar and meat shortages and shortages of other goods crimes bad most people seem to get robbed, depends how well u intergrate and unfortunately for most how much common sense u have.

but it doesnt affect travellers so much i dunno thats my opinion - i went to a march the other day for chavez and i got some free clothes and food, foods damn expensive here so yeah it was good.

Im moving to valencia this saturday . anyone there i want to share an apartment i recon its doable if i get another 1 o 2 people.

venezuela is like chaos, im here cause i want to get crazy stories and the women are very beautiful plastic bodies like barbies, apart from that i wouldnt recommend coming there are better places to go - ive been in south america for 2 years and i want to see everything so yeah.

Also like to say that i think venezuela has changed alot for the worst for foreign teachers in the last year its pretty fucked im going to give it another month or so in valencia see if i can survive otherwise im going off to colombia o costa rica.

SO YEAH ANYONE RENTING A ROOM WITHOUT A FAMILY ATTACHED IN VALENCIA OR CARACAS GIVE ME A BUZZ 04129046321
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